What is it?
The Renewable Energy Machines thread trains students on the energy production, conversion, storage, and transmission technologies that produce little to no CO2 or greenhouse emissions.
What will I learn?
Every nation on earth except one recently affirmed their willingness to decrease CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions, recognizing the issues and challenges facing the creation of a new, ultra-clean baseload energy generation system for developed and developing nations. The Renewable Energy Machines thread will prepare students to fully participate and lead in the creation of the world’s truly low-carbon grids and systems. Students will receive a solid foundation in the technical, economic, and societal aspects of low-carbon energy generation and distribution.
- All students completing the Renewable Energy Machines thread will automatically earn an MIT Energy Studies minor.
- This thread was redesigned in 2018-19 to replace the Clean Energy Systems thread.
What is this thread’s “new machine and system?”
Renewable energy machines include any sources of energy storage, conversion, transmission, and production which produce little to no CO2 or greenhouse emissions, and at best actually reduce them. This includes wind, solar, hydropower, nuclear fission & fusion, electric vehicles, gas with carbon sequestration, the hydrogen economy (fuel cells), and grid-scale energy storage. It does not include the end-users of electricity or anything to do with the final load on the system.
Who do I talk to?
For more information about the Renewable Energy Machines thread, please contact:
- Michael Short, founding faculty co-lead and associate professor of nuclear science and engineering: email@example.com
- Saurabh Amin, current faculty co-lead and associate professor of civil and environmental engineering: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Oral Buyukozturk, founding faculty co-lead (on sabbatical) and professor of civil and environmental engineering: email@example.com
- William Tisdale, associate professor of chemical engineering: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the Renewable Energy Machines thread, all majors are welcome — participating students will earn a degree in whichever major they have already selected or are planning to select. All participants will also automatically earn a minor in Energy Studies. Core requirements, sample subject selections, and suggested electives are listed below, but we encourage interested students to contact one of the thread’s faculty leads for class selection and advising.
Core requirements for this thread include projects, seminars, and foundation subjects.
The project subjects in Renewable Energy Machines are:
- Sophomore Fall: 3.007 Introduction to Materials and Mechanical Design (6 units). Focuses on hands-on experience with characterization techniques, instrumentation, design thinking and optimizing solutions within design constraints. Applied to ideas relevant to materials science and mechanical engineering. Includes introductions to modern, rapid prototyping and characterization tools in the context of a design problem, followed by discovery-based labs illustrating manufacturing concepts. Culminates in a student-directed making experience (6 units).
- Sophomore spring: 22.071(12 units). Building projects involving solar cells, batteries, fuel cells, biofuels, and micro-heat engines. Explores opportunities and challenges to mixing sources. “Energy” design competition (centered around generation and energy sources).
- Junior Spring: Large-scale design-build-test of complete energy system (Subject TBA, 12 units) or a SuperUROP in energy.
- Senior Fall: Renewable energy design competition where students identify and solve a global-scale, clean energy challenge (Subject TBA, 12 units).
Seminars are built into the projects listed above; there are no separate seminar subjects.
- 15.2191[J] Global Energy: Politics, Markets, and Policy or 14.44[J] Energy Economics and Policy
- 14.01 Principles of Microeconomics
- 8.21 Physics of Energy
- Technical energy subject in the student’s major
15.2191[J]/14.44[J] and 14.01 are vital to appreciating the socio-economics of large-scale energy systems, so that students approach all their projects from more than a purely technical perspective.
There are 2-3 slots in the sophomore year for students to take coursework in their intended majors. We suggest 1.102 (CEE), 2.005 (NSE/MechE), 2.001 and 2.007 (Mech E), 8.03 and 8.04 (Physics), and a slot in spring for students to start their area concentrations.
Sample Subject Selection
- 18.03 Differential Equations
- A programming subject or a subject in your major
- NEET Sophomore fall project
- 14.01 Principles of Microeconomics
- 2 subjects in your major
- NEET Sophomore spring project
Want to go further?
Some suggested electives (these are not required, and are not part of the core requirements for this thread):
- 2.006 Thermal-Fluids Engineering II: Advanced thermodynamics are necessary to understand the functionality of nuclear, hydro, and geothermal energy systems. May be useful in third- and fourth-year projects for modeling energy sources.
- 2.60J/22.40J Fundamentals of Advanced Energy Conversion: Also an Energy Studies Minor core requirement, this subject is vital to knowing how power is changed from the form in which it is generated to the form in which it is used (not always electricity). Will boost knowledge of available options and efficiencies of power conversion methods, especially for third- and fourth-year projects.
- 2.603 Fundamentals of Smart and Resilient Grids: Introduces the electrical grid of the future — robust, self-aware, and self-regulating.
- 2.626 Fundamentals of Photovoltaics: Provides a technical foundation for how solar energy works. Will be useful in both modeling for third- and fourth-year projects, and to identify interesting projects for the fourth year.
- 2.650J/22.081J Introduction to Sustainable Energy: An Energy Studies Minor core requirement, an overview of all the forms of sustainable energy that constitute a complete low carbon energy system. Useful survey course to learn the lay of the land.
- 3.18 Materials Science and Engineering of Clean Energy: For those interested in materials science, delves into the solid-state physics governing and improving low carbon energy generation and storage.
- 5.00J/6.929J/10.579J/22.813J Energy Technology and Policy: From Principles to Practice: Provides additional substance to the sociopolitical aspects of low carbon energy systems, will be very useful for designing a real, deployable solution for a problem in the fourth-year project.
- 6.933 Entrepreneurship in Engineering: New ventures abound in the low carbon energy systems space; this course is for students who want in on the action.
- 6.131 Power Electronics Laboratory: Builds on 22.071 Electronics, Signals, and Measurement to create real, higher power electrical conversion systems. Stresses modeling and characterizing ripple, uncertainty, and heat rejection. Could be useful for a fourth-year project relating to power conversion.
- 11.165 Urban Energy Systems and Policy: An Energy Studies Minor core requirement; like 5.00[J], provides socio-political framework for the implementation of low carbon energy systems.
- 12.301 Climate Science: Provides the motivation for the entire Renewable Energy Machines thread: Why are we focusing all our energy, and most of MIT’s research power, on reversing climate change? This course will explain, from one of the world’s top climate scientists.
- 15.017 Planning, Policy, and Technology for Energy Access in Developing Countries: Focuses on designing new grids in countries either largely without grids or with grids that need dramatic renewal. Gives students more interested in developing than developed countries opportunities for choosing fourth-year projects.
- IDS.064 Engineering, Economics, and Regulation of the Electric Power Sector: It is critical to understand that electricity and power are regulated; they aren’t simple commodities. This class (or one like it) should guide the choice of a fourth-year project.
- IDS.521 Energy Systems and Climate Change Mitigation: Marries the depth of 1.018A/12.031 Fundamentals of Ecology I with its integration into energy systems.
- IDS.522 Mapping and Evaluating New Energy Technologies: Useful in illustrating how to model the efficacy and effects of new energy generation or conversion systems, very much like the third-year project.
Please note that the classes listed above may change depending on departmental requirements.